The Last Final Girl, by Stephen Graham Jones – ★★★☆☆

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Introductory thoughts 8/14/2019

I’m back to stories off my list (but not forever). I am feeling the need to delve into more horror. It is almost Halloween after all. You can see my nearly finished review of the anthology the Devil and the Deep, and I’ve already started another anthology that I haven’t posted yet. Then there are so many more after that! I am falling in love with short horror fiction. I have at least one other horror story on my to do List (A Head Full of Ghosts), but Graham I came across him as I reviewed all these new anthologies. I can’t help but be intrigued (check out my review of his unique novella).

Of course, that is not this (well not exactly). We are looking at a novel that is practically a novella (~200pgs, less than 6hrs), but I am going to cheat in my tally and count this as a book of its own.

I am roughly ~10% into it (so hardly at all), and I am growing to like it. I went in to this pretty blind. I knew it was about horror tropes and cheesy horror films but exactly how it was satirical was beyond me. It seems to be told like someone is narrating a movie they’re watching. That’s tough to adjust to at first, as a mode of story telling, but I am adjusting. It is a fun way to look at the story. From my understanding, it is about a girl, the Final Girl, you know, the one that always survives (see the Cabin in the Woods or the Final Girl).

The trailer for the film, the Final Girl (2015), NOT an adaption of the book (which came after). Instead, it is another satirical look at horror tropes and the Final Girl (great film).

The story begins where the movie usually ends. We jump into the story right as the villain is about to kill the final girl, but she survives and defeats the monster! From my understanding, the story will follow the final girl as she gains new friends, friends that will end up competing (in some form) for the lucky spot as the final girl when horror returns to this small town.

I really hope this is a good book. The concept has me thrilled, even if the opening was a little shaky.

Update 8/21/19

I am almost finished the novel (76%, 1.5hr left). I like the novel, and I definitely love it at times. Unfortunately, I just can’t get past the style which feels more distracting than it is effective. I understand the idea, but the reality just makes it hard to follow along. Moment to moment transitions are confusing, and the intense moments are hard to follow. Imagine an action pact sequence being narrated with a number of characters on screen. It is one thing to see it play out, but trying to listen just doesn’t work. There is at least one scene I listened to twice to try and follow along. Plus, I’ve been listening at the standard speed (instead of ~10-20% faster like I do for most books).

Finished 8/22/2019

The ending was good. It was an exciting and surprising end. I enjoyed the twist to the story and the final girl trope, but the excitement of it all was lost in an convoluted narrative. I think this book would have benefited from being shorter. Granted, it can barely be called a novel as it is, given how short it is. Nevertheless, the style likely would have played better in a shorter form. A lot of the action was at the end. I feel like we could have jumped on where the “movie” left off into the sequel that Graham is trying to use as a form of commentary. this 6 hr book, should have been a 3 hour Novella, that more quickly took us through the story. I hate to do this, but I don’t think I can give this 4 stars. It is better than Firestarter–it’s more original which is worth something. Still, it feels too experimental. 3.5/5 stars rounding down.

Feelings on the Author

This is the third story I have read from Graham. Each story has felt very abstract and experimental but in a good way. He deserves credit for that, because a lot of authors feel unoriginal. For that, his work deserves some attention. I would even say I like him as an author. It just isn’t the type of novel I normally go for. Luckily, his works are short. This could have been shorter, but they are short enough that I am able to stay focused enough to be interested and stimulated. They are short enough that I am not ready to give up just yet. I want to check out his book of short stories, All the People Lights Have Gone Off. He also recommends his novel Mongrels as the first book for new readers to check out (via goodreads); it does sound intriguing (family of werewolves, or is it vampires, but not exactly what you think).

Then there is his novel, Demon Theory which is written in the form of an annotated screenplay. I can’t help but expect to feel the same way about it as I do about The Last Final Girl. Despite that, I still feel a strong urge to read it because it sounds so damn intriguing. What does that say about The Last Final Girl? I’ve rated it against the other novels I’ve read, but really, that may not be fair. The concept doesn’t work great as a novel, but it offers a unique take that makes it an interesting work of literature that I think is worthy of your attention, especially for a horror film fan.

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